MONTREAL (FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 African Qualifiers) - For an 18-year-old, point guard Sami Al Uariachi is living the dream of many a Moroccan basketball player.
A delay in the arrival of the team's luggage forced head coach Said El Bouzidi to feature only eight players in their opening game against hosts Angola.
The situation presented an opportunity for Uariachi to step up and fight for Morocco's pride, on his senior national team debut.
"With such adversity, we had to give the young guys like me an opportunity, especially against a very talented Angolan team," Uariachi told FIBA.basketball. "It was not what we preferred but we had to deal with the circumstances.
"We played really well considering the circumstances because we did not train really well. We could have done better because we had the games right there in our hands."
Morocco fell short 62-56 to the hosts but bounced back to edge out Democratic Republic of Congo 88-81 after overtime for their first win in the "Group of Death".
"It was the first three games and we managed to win one so obviously we are still on the right path towards the next round. It was a good experience," explained Uariachi.
Morocco will resume their bid to play in a first-ever World Cup in June-July of next year in Egypt.
"I am very excited for the return leg. I know Egypt has really been developing basketball wise so I am sure it will be a great experience. For sure, the Egyptian crowd will certainly bring great atmosphere to the games," said the 6ft (1.83m) playmaker.
Uariachi - who is a first year student at McGill University in Montreal, Canada - is already dreaming of playing in China come 2019.
"It would mean everything to me. I have been dreaming about this since I was a kid especially as a young player from Morocco," he said.
The teenage sensation, known for his admirable determination and zeal even against the best in the business, showed why he was included into the squad for this tournament as Morocco seek to begin the rebuilding process.
"Growing up, I always watched guys like Khalfi, Zouita, El Makssoud and Masbahi lead Morocco so to get to play alongside them in the World Cup Qualifiers was a surreal experience," he confessed.
The 12 qualified teams are divided in two groups (E and F) of 6 teams each.
The first legs of the Second-Round tournament take place during the fourth window (September 10-18, 2018), with the return legs to follow during the fifth window (November 26-December 4, 2018) and the sixth window (February 20-28, 2019).
The top two teams from groups E and F and the best third-ranked team will secure their tickets for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019.